Application Window to Open Beginning November 2 and Closing December 2
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) today announced that the application window for funding through the Broadband Opportunity Program will be open for 30 days, beginning on November 2, 2022, and closing on December 2, 2022. Awards will be granted to applicants who seek to expand broadband internet service in unserved areas. Additionally, DEO’s Office of Broadband will host a technical assistance webinar for rural communities ahead of the application window opening to assist prospective applicants in navigating the application process.
$400 million in total is available through the Broadband Opportunity Program and will be awarded through grants of up to $5 million. This program funds the installation and deployment of broadband Internet infrastructure in unserved Florida communities, providing valuable access to telehealth, economic, educational, and workforce development opportunities to offer a brighter future for all Floridians.
“Broadband infrastructure expansion is vital to the growth of our state’s communities and the Broadband Opportunity Program will allow unserved communities across the state to seek major investments for service expansion that will shape the future of broadband in Florida. The time to prepare applications for this program is now,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle. “I strongly encourage community leaders to use these next 30 days to attend our webinars, receive technical assistance, and develop the strongest possible applications for assistance so that DEO can award funds to communities as quickly as possible.”
DEO’s Office of Broadband will host a technical assistance webinar to provide rural communities with information on the timeline, scoring criteria, and funding and eligibility requirements for the Broadband Opportunity Program. The Rural Technical Assistance Webinar, will be held on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Eastern Time. This webinar will assist prospective applicants in developing applications for funding. DEO staff will also be available to provide support throughout the application process.
In order to ensure that communities recovering after Hurricane Ian have the opportunity to apply, applicants in FEMA designated counties can request to submit their application past the deadline. DEO staff will be available to assist in this process.
Additional Broadband Efforts
- In July 2020, the Florida Office of Broadband was established within the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Division of Community Development to increase the availability and effectiveness of broadband internet throughout the state. The amendment of Section 288.9961, Florida Statutes, and creation of Sections 288.9962 and 288.9963, Florida Statutes, provides DEO access to federal grant dollars and assists rural communities with the expansion of broadband services, as well as provides directives for broadband mapping and the Broadband Opportunity Program.
- During Florida’s 2021 Legislative session, House Bill 1239 passed and provided an allocation of $1.5 million to develop geographic information system (GIS) maps of Florida’s currently availability of broadband internet service.
- In January and February 2021, DEO partnered with the Florida Regional Councils Association to host 10 virtual workshops where participants discussed broadband internet accessibility. Industry sector and community leaders within each region were invited to participate. These industry sectors included education, healthcare, private business, community organizations, agriculture, tourism, parks and recreation, economic development, local governments and internet service providers.
- In September 2021, DEO launched the Local Technology Planning Team initiative using the Broadband Planning Toolkit developed by the Office of Broadband. Local Technology Planning Teams are tasked with working within their communities to understand their current broadband availability, locate unserved and underserved businesses and residents, identify assets relevant to broadband deployment, build partnerships with broadband service providers, and identify opportunities to leverage assets and reduce barriers to the deployment of broadband Internet services in the community.
- In December 2021, DEO published Florida’s Broadband Availability Map to identify where broadband-capable networks exist; where service is available to end users, gaps in rural areas, and download and upload speeds. DEO continues to collect data from Floridians on their availability and accessibility of broadband Internet to be added to the map through its Broadband Internet Speed Test.
- In June 2022, DEO published the Faster Florida Broadband Map, which identifies census blocks as unserved, underserved, served, and no fixed internet service as defined in Section 288.9961, Florida Statutes. The map also identifies Florida geographic boundaries, community anchor institutions, grant funding opportunities, and information on the speed tests taken through the Florida Broadband Availability Map.
- In June 2022, DEO submitted the Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband to the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President of the Senate. The Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband lays out the vision of the Office of Broadband, the roles for state and local participants, and the strategies to undertake as Florida works toward a fully connected citizenry, both economically and socially.
- In August 2022, DEO hosted three regional workshops (Bartow in Polk County on August 22, Milton in Santa Rosa County on August 25, and Moore Haven in Glades County on August 29, 2022) to receive community input on rulemaking for the implementation of the $400 million Broadband Opportunity Program.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce and community development efforts, expediting economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities and promote economic resiliency. For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit www.FloridaJobs.org.